By Graziella Dinuzzo
for Technically Philly
This story is part of Grow PA, a reported series on economic development across 10 Pennsylvania counties underwritten by the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia. Sign up for our weekly curated email here.
What does an underwater robotic vehicle manufacturer have in common with an organic bug spray company, a manufacturer of stainless steel and an ice cream shop?
All four are successful Pennsylvania exporters who are growing their business and strengthening Pennsylvania’s economy.
According to the Greater Philadelphia Export Plan, launched by the Economy League of Philadelphia and the World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia (WTCGP) in April 2016, manufacturing and services firms that export enjoy higher revenues, faster growth, a stronger labor pool and higher profitability than non-exporters.
Raising the region’s export intensity to the average for the 100 largest U.S. metros — an ambitious but realistic goal — would translate into $6.3 billion in new economic activity every year and 35,000 additional jobs.
This represents enormous untapped potential to strengthen our economy. According to WTCGP President Linda Conlin, the region’s export economy is “well-positioned” for success.
“We’ve been counseling companies since 2002. As one of 320 World Trade Centers, WTCGP has helped area companies generate over $1.6 billion in incremental export sales, supporting over 20,200 jobs,” said Conlin. “Global opportunities exist, and it is up to organizations like the WTCGP, U.S. Commercial Service, Delaware Valley Industrial Resource Center (DVIRC) and state, county and local governments to continue to support these small to medium sized businesses.”
So, how do we get more Pa. companies on board? First, consider these tips from a recent event on going global.
Here are four Pa. companies that have found success in exporting:
Pottstown-based VideoRay is the largest volume producer of portable inspection-class underwater robots used in port security, law enforcement, offshore oil and gas drilling and ship inspection. Just recently, VideoRay fulfilled two large orders for Autonomous Remote Vehicle Systems — one for the French Navy for $1.5 million and another for the Indian Navy for $1 million. Today, VideoRay products are used on every continent.
“If you had told me nine or 10 years ago that we’d be doing business overseas, I would have told you that you were crazy. And yet today, we are all over the world,” says John Curley, Vice President of International Sales for Sandmeyer Steel, a stainless steel and nickel alloy manufacturer located in Northeast Philly. Sandmeyer currently maintains 10 international sales locations and business is good.
In April 2017, GreenerWays was named Exporter of the Year in Bucks County by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Founded in 2010, Greenerways LLC is a Langhorne-based company that develops, produces (via consignment manufacturing) and wholesales organic household cleaning and insect repellent products. GreenerWays is currently exporting to Japan, Hong Kong, Aruba and Mexico.
“Greenerways, LLC, is an outstanding example of a small business that starts, grows and goes on to success in the global exporting market,” said SBA Eastern Pa. Director Antonio Leta.
Bassetts Ice Cream
In December, Bassetts, America’s oldest ice cream company and a hometown favorite, shipped its first container of ice cream to South Korea, and has opened its first store. Bassetts is also selling in China and the Caribbean and China accounts for 20 percent of Bassetts revenue. Bassetts has reportedly experienced double-digit growth in the last three years, and President Michael Strange expects that growth to continue.
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